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Ernst questions impeaching Trump, warns it could create ‘dangerous standard’

She encouraged her fellow senators to keep in mind "what will bring us together, not further divide."

WASHINGTON (FOX47) — Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst is signaling that she’s likely a “no” on impeaching former President Donald Trump.

For impeachment to be successful, two-thirds of senators would need to vote to convict. Even if all Senate Democrats vote yes, 17 Senate Republicans would also need to vote to convict.

But Ernst is joining a growing number of Republicans questioning whether it’s right to impeach a president who is no longer in office.

In a statement released on Monday night, Ernst said Trump holds
“some responsibility” for the riots at the U.S. Capitol. However, she said she is worried about creating the “dangerous standard of using impeachment as a tool for political revenge.”

Ernst also believes preventing the former president from running for office again would “strip millions of voters of their ability to choose a candidate in the next election.”

Still, the Republican senator said she will listen to arguments on both sides and wants to hear from her fellow Iowans about impeachment. Although she has not made a final decision, she encouraged her fellow senators to keep in mind “what will bring us together, not further divide.”

Democrats, meanwhile, have argued the former president must be convicted, alleging that he incited an insurrection with his speech to supporters before the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The Senate impeachment trial will begin on Feb. 9.

The full statement from the senator is below.

“Violence, no matter your party affiliation, is wrong. Destroying homes and businesses is lawlessness. A mob attack on the U.S. Capitol is inexcusable. The political rhetoric that has reverberated throughout this country for too long will only lead to more anarchy; it’s time we tone it down and come together. We have an obligation to watch our words, because they have all-too-real consequences.

As I’ve said, President Trump exhibited poor leadership and holds some responsibility for the anarchy that ensued at the heart of our democracy. The individuals who lawlessly stormed the Capitol, murdered police, and attempted to prevent Congress from doing its job, should be held accountable to the full extent of the law.

Impeachment is an important constitutional tool. When we have a president that demonstrates he or she is unfit to continue holding office, it provides Congress a pathway to remove the president, to preserve the safety and security of our nation.

Over the coming weeks, I will have the opportunity to listen to the arguments for and against convicting a former president—and as always, I will hear from my fellow Iowans on the matter. My concern right now is that the president is no longer in office. Congress would be opening itself to a dangerous standard of using impeachment as a tool for political revenge against a private citizen, and the only remedy at this point is to strip the convicted of their ability to run for future office – a move that would undoubtedly strip millions of voters of their ability to choose a candidate in the next election. 

As we go through this process, I urge every member of the Senate to keep in mind what is best for our nation, and ultimately what will bring us together, not further divide.”

Byron Tollefson

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